“Repetitive stress injuries” build up over time, but it feels like they happen in a moment. When someone falls and breaks their arm, or when they drop something on their foot and fracture it, those are injuries that you know everything about. The moment they happened, how they happened, the exact circumstances –they’re clear. Repetitive strain injuries (as they’re also called) aren’t like that. These injuries rarely have one day on a calendar you can point to when they happened. In this blog, we’ll go over how these injuries occur, what they are, and what workers compensation attorney can do to help.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
The definition of repetitive strain injuries is: “any (injury) of various painful musculoskeletal disorders caused by cumulative damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or joints (as of the hand or shoulder) from highly repetitive movements.” Two words that stand out in that definition: “cumulative” and “highly.” The “cumulative” part means that these injuries occur over a period of time. One day you’re doing your job, that’s fine. Two days, months, years and so forth – everything’s fine. However, over a long enough period of time, should your job always consist of doing the same motions, you can be harmed.
The word “highly” stands out as well. Just performing repetitive motions, in and of itself, isn’t always enough to cause these injuries. However, “highly repetitive” motions can cause these injuries because it’s always putting the strain on just those parts of the body. By always making certain ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints or nerves have to shoulder the burden, they’re liable to wear down and become injured.
Common Repetitive Strain Injury Causes
Jobs that are considered “hands-on” tend to cause many repetitive strain injuries. These are jobs that include grasping tools quite a bit. So, construction, manufacturing, being an auto worker, or a hospital worker – any job where you’re grabbing tools quite a bit can lead to this kind of injury. One industry where we have many clients who’ve suffered repetitive strain injuries is hair dressers and stylists. They’re grasping tools (scissors, shavers, hair dryers and the like) while performing highly repetitive motions day in and day out, for hours on end over a course of many years. Hairdressers are at high risk for these injuries.
One group that we’ve seen a rise of these repetitive strain injuries with is rideshare drivers. Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like can be jobs where you can make your own hours, but all of that driving can lead to repetitive strain injuries. We used to see plenty of these injuries from people who delivered food or other goods for a living, now we’re seeing it more and more from those who drive for app-based businesses.
When you work a job for a long period of time, it tends to take a toll on your posture. It’s not always easy to have the best, most upright posture for hours on end, particularly if you’re doing repetitive tasks. When you have to hold poor posture for a long time, or simply have poor posture for a while, it can lead to repetitive strain injuries. That can hurt your back, neck, shoulders and more. If your job has forced you to have bad posture, then you deserve to be compensated for it when you’re injured.
Being a professional musician is the dream of millions of people. Playing music for a living, even as a side gig, is a true dream come true. However, we’ve had plenty of musicians who suffered repetitive strain injuries as well. Moving your fingers that much, over and over again; having to maintain a certain posture for hours on end, these can all lead to having repetitive strain injuries.
Really, very few professions are precluded from having these kinds of injuries. From pro athletes to custodial workers, essentially every job has some kind of repetitive task that you perform over and over again. Training for athletics can cause all kinds of strain on your body, while using a rake, mop or even just sweeping up constantly can take a toll on your biceps, shoulders and more. When you’re hurt from having to do this over and over again, you deserve financial compensation for it.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Perhaps the most well-known kind of repetitive strain injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Typically, we tend to see this injury from people who have to type all the time, every day. It tends to start the same way: there’s an itch, tingle, or even some kind of burn in your middle finger, index finger, thumb or palm of your hand. That’s when you’re at work or throughout the course of the day. Then, at night, your fingers become numb and even “fall asleep.” Of course, when you wake up, the tingling and numbness are back – in fact, they may even go into your shoulder.
Your median nerve runs basically the entire length of your arm. This controls how your thumb feels as well as its movement. When constant pressure is put on the median nerve, it swells. The carpal tunnel itself is a passage in your wrist. When your median nerve swells, the carpal tunnel gets narrower. Hence, the problem. Of course, typing is the most common cause of this – as a person types for so long, it tends to wear out the median nerve. However, you’re most at risk if you type with your hands are lower than your wrist. This is why so many of those “ergonomic” pads and the link put your hands higher than your wrist, so as to remove that pressure.
Take a Break
There’s no one way to keep repetitive strain injuries from occurring. After all, the word “repetitive” is in the name – for you to do your job, you probably have to do these actions several times. One thing that can help with many of these injuries though is to just take a break every now and then. Obviously, you’re busy. Clearly, you want to do good at work so that you can provide for yourself and those who care about you. However, you also need to give yourself some time to heal, too.
To use carpal tunnel as an example, every now and then, take some time away from the computer. Depending on what you read, taking fifteen minutes out every hour or so is a great way to conserve your body. Obviously, not every job will allow you to do this, but take that time out where you can. To be clear, we also mean “get up and take a break.” Don’t just stop typing and then go to read social media (although, every little break does help).
Instead, get up; take a walk around the area, or even just the office. Maybe even do a little stretching. That way, your muscles can have a break from having to do the heavy lifting all of the time. When these injuries occur, they don’t just harm you at work – they lessen your entire quality of life. They can be especially frustrating because you can’t always point to a cast or something visible to show that you have these injuries. When they hold you out from being able to do your job (or to do your job to the best of your ability) it can be exhausting.
When you suffer these injuries at work, you deserve to be compensated for them. That’s where our professionals come in. We’ve helped so many people to get the compensation they deserve for their repetitive strain injuries. Should these injuries hold you out of work, turn to the professionals who can get you the compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and more. Call us for a free consultation at (818) 975-3080 or message us through our site. We’ll help you every step of the way.